Saturday, October 06, 2007


Today is Saturday. My exam is on Wednesday. I am taking tomorrow off (I learnt the importance of a complete break from studying many years ago). My course has been distilled onto 27 sheets of A4 paper. I now have to make sure that they get into my brain. YIKES!!!

You'll be glad to note those 27 sheets aren't crammed full. For instance one has six words: "Good calculator Kepler Bad Calculator Leibniz". I think I know that one, and it is probably fairly irrelevant. Achemedes was another person who was good at calulations, phew now I have my three examples from different time periods.

I am trying to think of times when books weren't important in the development of maths. There is logarithms (although that is printed tables) and also the contest between Tartaglia and Fior, where Tartaglia developed a new method of solving cubics, and won 30 dinners from Fior. There is more to that story, and it leads into the publication of Ars Magna by Cardano. That's an important book, as is Newton's Principia, Euclid's Elements and Apollonius' Conics. Also the textbooks by Lacroix and Lagrange.

My favourite important book is "The Castle of Knowledge" by Robert Record, who wrote a series which also includes "the Grounde of Artes" and the "Pathway to Knowledge". They sound like they ought to be a fantasy series: which is kind of funny, because Record seems to have been a very straight forward kind-of guy, unlike his near contemporary Dr John Dee.

Of course, these are the things I know: now back to the sheets to learn the things I don't know.

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